The Singing Bird Room of Robert Lostutter
October 5, 2012 – January 6, 2013
The Singing Bird Room of Robert Lostutter surveys the work of one of the leading Chicago artists of recent decades. Its primary focus is the artist’s fantastical world of creatures that are half-man, half-bird. In the early 1970s, on the first of many trips to Mexico, Lostutter was drawn to the tropical birds of the region, mesmerized by their otherworldly beauty. This experience led him to seize upon the theme that has defined his mature style. A superb draftsman and watercolorist, he used his exceptional skills to begin making portraits of hybrid bird-men. He later turned to other locales for his subjects–the Caribbean and Southeast Asia–and began exploring an alternate hybrid, adorned with the leaves and petals of orchids. The brilliantly colored feathers are those of mating males; the sensual flowers an invitation to pollinate. Both disturbing and radiantly beautiful, Lostutter’s mythic beings are fusions of humanity and raw nature. The artist evokes an earthly paradise, as revealed in birds and flowers, in a domain often unnoticed and unseen. It is not a paradise lost, but one for our taking if only we look. Lostutter’s mythic figures invite us to repossess what we may have lost.
Most works in the exhibition are in watercolor, the artist’s preferred medium. Lostutter has always been interested in the artistic process that leads to the final work of art. He has a long-standing tradition of preserving, for personal reference, color charts and preliminary drawings that prepare the way for his finished watercolor paintings. A selection of these ancillary studies is included in the exhibition.
The Singing Bird Room of Robert Lostutter is drawn from the Bill McClain Collection of Chicago Imagism, Madison Museum of Contemporary Art.
Generous support for The Singing Bird Room of Robert Lostutter has been provided by Ben Marcus and Katie Dowling-Marcus; the Terry Family Foundation; a grant from the Wisconsin Arts Board with funds from the State of Wisconsin and the National Endowment for the Arts; and MMoCA Volunteers.